An irresistible premise and a fast-moving plot carry Housewright’s latest along for a miraculously extended flight before it...


Minneapolis private eye Holland Taylor (Darkness, Sing Me a Song, 2018, etc.) is called on to bail out the only people in the Twin Cities more morally compromised than he is: members of the bar.

David Helin was handling Brooke St. Vincent’s divorce; Doug Jernigan, the defense of accused rapist Robert Garrow; Scott Mickelson, a bribery action against Mayor Mary Feeney; Cormac Puchner, a class-action suit against Standout Investments; and John Kaushal, the criminal defense of Clark Peterson, accused of killing his wife. All of them have been keeping secret online files indicating that their clients were a lot guiltier than their attorneys were willing to admit, and all of those files have been stolen by an unusually well-informed and resourceful hacker. Who took the files and leaked them to the whistleblowers of NIMN (Not in Minnesota)—and why, given the very different nature of the proceedings, were these five attorneys plucked from all the ornaments of the state’s bar and targeted for extortion or unmasking? That’s what they pay Taylor and his partner, Freddie Fredericks, $20,000 to find out. What they don’t count on is the skeletons that will come tumbling out of corporate closets in the search or the unlikely common denominator that Taylor and Freddie uncover all too soon: the wildly dysfunctional family of self-made millionaire Robert Paul Guernsey, an 80-year-old who lords it over the manse he calls Axis Mundi as his third wife, the alluring 42-year-old Maura, his offspring, and his hired minions wander the city and its environs getting into every possible kind of mischief. Taylor and Freddie need to maintain a bulletin board full of pins and thread to connect the many tentacles of the case, but readers are advised just to hang on for the ride and not to sweat the small stuff, like who killed whom and how come.

An irresistible premise and a fast-moving plot carry Housewright’s latest along for a miraculously extended flight before it sinks under the weight of its complications somewhere in the third act.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-09449-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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